Monthly Archives: April 2013

Catholicism: A Love Story

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by Daniel Quintero, former Media Ministry Assistant

There are many beautiful treasures that our Church possesses to which the Holy Spirit can call people.  For me, it was the intellectual richness of the Catholic faith which drew me to appreciate it again. My mind was absorbed in the vastness of what our Church taught and how we came to that belief. Yet despite the mental feast, I still was not in love.

How could I not be in love with my Church? The one I knew factually as the Bride of Christ. The one whose treasures I was so eager to study.  I, like many Catholics, couldn’t help but see the Church as merely an institution. Because of this, even though I knew it had the fullness of truth,  I was not allowing myself to be in love with the Church.

Pope Francis has done an amazing job reflecting on the fact that the Catholic Church is not simply an organization, it is not simply a charitable club, but instead is a ‘love story.’

As my good friend and co-worker Angela reflected on at the Catholic Women’s Luncheon, God is always inviting us to a candle light dinner with Him, in the Eucharist.

This is where my love story began. Standing in adoration; being able to allow the information in my mind to pierce through my heart and grasp the full understanding of God’s love for me, as expressed through the Church.

In truth, we love the Church because we love Christ. We are often accused by separated brethren of not having a personal relationship with Christ. I never truly understood that accusation. The entire Church is built on the foundation of a relationship with Him. The Sacraments, for one, usher in an outward presence of a true and inner reality; in a similar way, as physical acts and expressions between couples reflect deeper notions of love. In fact, the greatest mystics of the Church described the intensity of their relationship with Christ in the metaphor of a marital union. This is what St. John of the Cross called a ‘Mystical Marriage’ with Christ.

This is the climax of our spiritual union with God; to be so in love with God through His Church that we become intimately united with Him. This is the journey all of us are called to take in this life. It is a difficult path, but one that will lead to full happiness and holiness. It will lead us to be Saints.

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You Never Know Who’s Watching!

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There are always people in our periphery view. They’re the ones with whom we may hardly exchange a, “Hello.” They’re the ones who move in and out of our everyday lives, and we hardly give them a thought. These very people have surprised me over the last few years.

  • ‘Mary,’ shared some classes with me in college. She was vocal about preferring science over religion, and about her love of animals. Years later, she sent me a Facebook message; her beloved pet had died. She vulnerably asked what my Catholic faith said about animals; “Do they go to Heaven?”
  • ‘Arthur,’ similarly shared classes with me in college. He was not into God. Several months ago, he sent me a message asking, “What’s the difference between a sister and a nun?”
  • ‘Sarah’ had been part of the popular crowd in high school. A few days ago, she sent me a message with questions like, “How could God let bad things happen?” and “How can you be so strong in your faith?” Sarah was raised in a religious home, but has never believed in God. Now, she seems to be searching.

My point is this: You never know who’s watching. I cannot recall ever having had a single conversation with any of these three people.

In his April 14 homily, Pope Francis said:

In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. […] Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God!

I’m not a Catholic apologist, or Church history expert, etc. But I know that Mary, Arthur and Sarah found me approachable. They observed my words and actions, and they wanted to hear from me…but I never would have guessed it! You, too, have people who silently observe your words and actions. As Christians, we have to ask ourselves: Am I truly living my faith? This is key because, in Pope Francis’ words,

Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility. But [consistent witness] is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is he who has called us, he who has invited us to travel his path, he who has chosen us. […] This is important for us: living an intense relationship with Jesus, an intimacy of dialogue and of life, in such a way as to recognize him as “the Lord”, and to worship him.

Take up this challenge — Jesus has called you by name. Are you willing to answer Him in each action you take? Live that “intense relationship with Jesus” in prayer, in Scripture, in the Sacraments, in the Church. From these sources, you will grow in your Christian and Catholic witness. Jesus needs each one of us to witness truthfully to who He is.

(Read Pope Francis’ full homily here.)

My Reflection on Becoming Catholic

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"On the Banks of the Tiber" by Camille Corot (1826)

“On the Banks of the Tiber” by Camille Corot (1826)

One year ago, I lived in Houston…was discerning in which direction to take my life…and still a Protestant. Today, I live in San Antonio…work for a Catholic evangelization ministry…and am now a confirmed Catholic. What happened? I fully believe God has a plan for our lives. Although we may not know what it is – He does – and that is what matters.

On an unsuspecting afternoon, in a restaurant, I met a Man of God from the Roman Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit hit me with a “2 x 4”, wave upon wave of revelation breaking over my stunned mind, and I knew within minutes that my life was about to go in a dramatically different direction. After this conversion experience, I could not get Catholicism out of my system – or the question, “Is this God’s will for me to become a Catholic?” out of my mind. Powerful forces were calling me to follow.

On September 10, 2012, I began working for Pilgrim Center of Hope. Following the example, and under the guidance and teaching of Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox, and my co-workers, Angela Sealana and Daniel Quintero, the seeds that had been planted a couple years prior were watered and found roots. Here at Pilgrim Center of Hope I have found peace, devotion to God, and service to community.

Then, on September 12, 2012, I began RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), taking my first steps in the direction of becoming Catholic; my mind still not comprehending how I had gotten there – my heart knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be. With each RCIA meeting every week for six months, my journey with Christ deepened and took on greater meaning. And what I learned about the Catholic faith only strengthened my conviction that I was on the right path.

At the Easter Vigil, on the most majestic and holy of nights, and the high point of my life, I became one in the Body of Christ and came “home” to Holy Mother Church. I can honestly say that I have found everything I didn’t know that I was looking for.

Where’s YOUR Galilee? – Rediscover Your Love for Jesus

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Galilee

Galilee

“O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!” (from the Easter Proclamation chanted during the Easter Vigil Service)

The Easter Season is my favorite liturgical season, for many reasons. First of all, the biblical readings are taken from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospels concentrate on the Lord’s apparitions after His Resurrection before He ascended to Heaven. Secondly, the readings referring to the Apostles encountering the Risen Lord at the Sea of Galilee remind us of the Lord’s omnipotent patience with us. In Mark 16:1-8, we read about the Resurrection of Jesus. Mary Magdalene and other women came to the tomb and encountered a young man sitting (Mark 16:5) inside the empty tomb. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. …But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told'” (Mark 16: 6-7).

Jesus was to meet his disciples and Peter in Galilee. Why Galilee? It was in Galilee when they first encountered Jesus, it was in Galilee where Jesus called them and they left everything to follow Him. The disciples left Jesus during His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemani, and Peter denied Him. The beloved disciple, John, was the only one at the foot of the Cross. The disciples were now to “go to the place where they first met Him.” To remember how they first fell in love with Jesus, to remember they left everything for Him. In John’s Gospel, chapter 21 we read about the Resurrection appearance in Galilee. As the disciples are fishing, Jesus again calls out to them.

How amazing! Jesus gently reminds Peter and the disciples of their “first love”, their first encounter with Him, whom they learned to love.

Are there times we have lost “our first love” for Jesus? Have we allowed the fire within our souls to die simply because we have become too busy, or have denied Him, or have simply allowed daily routine to control us? If so – return to your Galilee! Remember when you encountered the mercy of Christ, or when you experienced His presence in your life for the first time! He is there! He remembers! He has gone ahead and waits for you again and again to embrace Him.

Jesus said from the cross: “I thirst.” (John 19:28). He continues to thirst for mankind to seek Him. Don’t let time get away from you and say – “Later…” or “Not now, I’m too busy with…” He never tires, we do! Encounter Him again and again. Let us remember the words that were chanted on Easter Vigil: “O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”

The Easter liturgical season leads us for 50 days to the Feast of Pentecost, the birth of the Church.